Welcome back to Flashcaps, where we review previous seasons of the CW’s The Flash.
written by George Hatch
Remember last week when I said that “Girls’ Night Out” wasn’t the worst episode of the series? Yeah, turns out I was setting myself up for this one.
Spoilers under the cut.
So, it’s not a total shitshow, but this episode suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucks. Out loud. With conviction. But I want to start with some positive things. Carlos Valdes’ acting is magnificent in this one, even if he’s relegated to the B-plot. Along with that, articulating the Flash’s first priority of saving people – not “getting the bad guy” – was absolutely necessary in comparison to Ralph’s skewed priorities. Finally, the fight with the T. Rex skeleton was pretty badass. And that’s about it.
As for the bad, well, not only is the Council of Wells so unabashedly unfunny that I cringed every time they came on screen, but it’s wholly unnecessary. It adds nothing to the episode other than creating a deus ex machina to give them DeVoe’s identity at the end. That time would have been better spent on Black Bison, whose backstory is given a quick once-over and only seems to be there to check a representation box off the producers’ checklist.
Speaking of producers, it’s time to get into this. Four days before this episode aired, Variety reported that Arrowverse creator and executive producer Andrew Kreisberg had been suspended amid reports of multiple instances of inappropriate contact and sexual harassment (source). He was later fired, although he got to keep his executive producer and creator credits for all future episodes. I knew that this would be a thing to discuss during the season, but didn’t know when exactly to talk about it until I came across this article by Ron Artis Jr. in my research. This excerpt stood out to me:
For example, the episode “When Harry Met Harry” has Ralph comically bragging about his flawless skills at measuring women’s bra sizes with just a simple glance.
This “joke” clearly made both women who became the targets of Ralph’s “skill” uncomfortable, but no one around them seemed to care or even put him in his place.
It is unsettling to watch Ralph be perverted and have it go unchecked while the series former showrunner had allegedly gotten away with similar behavior for so long as well. If Ralph is to become at least halfway likable, he needs to lose any trace of his personality that involves degrading other female characters for laughs.
One of the things an abuser does to deflect attention away from behavior they know is wrong is to try and normalize it. A method of doing that is by claiming it’s “just a joke”. Ralph Dibny has been astonishingly sexist since we’ve met him, but has continued to be framed as a diamond in the rough. A good guy deep down, just with a few less than savory proclivities which really came to a head in this episode. It is, of course, bullshit and leads me to believe that Ralph, more than any other character, might be a reflection of how Kreisberg wants the world to see him. Planting this kind of behavior in a season that everyone in the cast and crew continues to say is “light-hearted” is absolutely an attempt to normalize the behaviors that Kreisberg himself was getting away with. For the record, those behaviors are sexual harassment and I’m glad he’s gone.
I’ve seen Season Five. Ralph gets much, much better as a character. But the bullshit doesn’t end for a while, or so I’m led to believe. But it does end, so at least there’s that.